Sri Lanka vs India, 2017: Akila Dananjaya's six-wicket haul which destroyed the Indian batsmen
He picked up six wickets while conceding 39 runs in his eight over spell.
When I began to write this article, I was prepared to pen down the tale of three quick wickets by Akila Dananjaya. By the time I reached the end of my article, he had registered a six-wicket haul in the match. If that does not describe the voodoo Dananjaya hid in his Arsenal, I don't know what will.
2nd ODI, second innings, and countless surprises...Sri Lanka finally served their revenge dish to their guests.
It all looked fine for the Men in Blue in the beginning. Repetitive may be the right word but Dananjaya carried a magic wand to change the fortunes of this match. His six-wicket haul snatched the match away from the plates of the Indian team while the latter struggled to recover from Dananjaya's bowling assault.
First, he hunted Rohit Sharma who looked in form after a long time. He scored 54 runs after which he was sent back to the pavilion by Dananjaya. He was cruising, was Rohit, and for some reason decided to get down low to a full ball in order to sweep only to miss the ball which crashed into his pads.
Sharma was quite confident about not being out and he went for a review upon Dhawan's insistence. Little did they know that the ball that Sharma's tried to sweep had landed him in deep trouble. Wicket number 1...India's opening partnership had been snapped for 109, a Sri Lankan bowler had picked the first wicket of this series. No worries India thought, we have the belief, Dananjaya retorted!
In the sixteenth over, Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed for 49 by Siriwardana and Dananjaya returned with the ball in the next over.
With Kedhar Jadhav on strike in the 17th over and Dananjaya on a roll, he delivered a googly which skidded across the surface, kissed the inside edge of his bat and was headed for the middle stump. Bamboozled, Jadhav had a puzzling look and meandered back... not the match, it came roaring back to life.
Indian fans' eyebrows were not yet furrowed, but drips of sweat were forming!
As Virat Kohli walked in to bat, he smashed Dananjaya's first ball for a splendid boundary. Yeah, normalcy folks, the king of chases is in, calm down. Just when everyone thought the captain will let the hosts know who dominates the game, Dananjaya decided to make up for his previous ball.
He delivered a googly which was fullish, Kohli moved his front foot out of the way to play his whiplash cover drive, the ball deviated, missed that broad bat and smashed the stumps. Boom... the crowd were baying for Kohli's blood, Kohli himself was baying for the solace of the dressing room. He stood there perplexed, seeking answers from KL Rahul as the Sri Lankan team came together for a wild celebration. Energy simmering all over the place, the ghosts of the series slowly fading away!
It was Rahul's turn next. Another googly and another batsman bowled. The ball tricked Rahul as it gently touched the inside edge and went past the pads to hit the wickets.
Hardik Pandya looked confident at the crease being well accompanied by MS Dhoni. Unfortunately, Pandya was out for a duck today. As he advanced to hit the ball, it betrayed him smartly after brushing against his bat and landing directly in Niroshan Dickwella's hands.
As Pandya started to walk back, Dhoni was seen contemplating the measures to revive team India. Axar Patel walked in to bat.
Dananjaya delivered a fantastic ball and Patel misjudged it. No one was even surprised, not anymore. He moved forward to defend but the ball sneaked its way around his bat and went straight to the stumps. There was no way to cancel out that splendid dismissal.
Team India is determined to make a comeback in this match while they hope to veil the over-confidence they bore ahead of this encounter. As Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are struggling to calculate their moves, faces look grieved in the Indian dressing room. Sri Lankan fans are seen dancing to the rhythm of their heartbeat and the hosts are hailing their new hero.
Fun fact, Dananjaya got married yesterday. I was even prepared to flood my social media articles with his pictures but I guess that will be possible once I recover from this spell. In my defence, I wasn't prepared for this just like the other 1.3 billion Indian fans (and probably the entire island of Sri Lanka).
Despite the results of this match, one cannot overlook the spell that left the entire cricket world spellbound.
Akila Dananjaya, take a bow, he also took the man of the match, some solace after all!